A record-breaking performance from Robbie Keane secured Ireland a comfortable 2-0 victory in their World Cup Group Four qualifier against the Faroe Islands on Wednesday.
Keane scored twice in the opening 32 minutes of the Group Four game to set an all-time scoring record of 23 goals for Ireland as he delivered the early pace that manager Brian Kerr had asked of his players ahead of the game.
Despite almost constant pressure from then on, Ireland failed to find a third goal but Kerr was not complaining as his side joined France at the top of the group.
"It was a good performance tonight and I think they should be happy with themselves," he said. "We've got eight points and I think that's very satisfactory start."
Keane opened the scoring from a 14th-minute penalty after a foul on winger Damien Duff. That was already enough to ensure that the Tottenham Hotspur striker overtook Niall Quinn's old record of 21 goals for Ireland.
The man of the match added his second less than 20 minutes later from close range when he pounced on a rebound after Roy Keane's through ball came off a defender.
The tempers of a visiblyfrustrated Faroe Islands began to fray early on and midfielders Rogvi Jakobsen, Frodi Benjaminsen and Julian Johnsson were each booked.
Keane felt some of that frustration when he was floored in the 59thminute and hobbled off the pitch before returning to deliver several near misses in a goalless second half.
"You'dexpect that of him," Kerr said of the striker's return, adding that while the elusive third goal would no doubt have been at the back of the player's mind, the rest of the team had not gone out their way to try and set it up for him.
Keane was twice denied a hat-trick by goalkeeper Jakup Mikkelsen, who came out to block his shots in the second half, and central defender Jon Roi Jakobsen who cleared another effort off the line in the 80thminute.
The Faroe Islands had just one shot on target to a dozen by Ireland when Newcastle United goalkeeper Shay Given went down at the base of his right-handpost to stop a shot from striker Oli Johannessen in the final minutes.
Duffblasted two shots wide and midfielder Andy Reid also missed with a good chance for the Irish, who had plenty of opportunities to at least double their score after the interval.